Peatlands are the largest natural terrestrial carbon store. On the other hand, damaged peatlands are a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, annually releasing almost 6% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions.On the global scale, the EU is the second largest emitter of GHG from drained peatlands (0.22 Gt CO2 eq./yr or 15% of total global peatland emissions). This is equivalent to circa 5% ofthe official EU GHG emissions total of 4.483 Gt CO2 eq./yr in 2017. Peatland emissions are reported by EU countries in their National Inventory submissions to UNFCCC but are not yet fully accounted for in the National Inventories. LULUCF GHG emissions are due to be fully integrated into the EU GHG target by 2030. Peatland restoration, i.e. the revitalisation of the peatland ecosystems, can bring significant emission reductions. Although the value of mires for climate change mitigation, biodiversity and other ecosystem services is undisputed, their degradation and habitat loss across Europe is still ongoing. This unfavourable situation has now been recognised, and an increasing number of peatland restoration projects and programmes have been implemented in peat-rich EU countries to revitalise their function as carbon and greenhouse gas sinks. However, the lessons learned and efforts are highly fragmented. Better EU-wide coordination and networking could lead to more efficient results.
The main objective of the LIFE MULTI PEAT project is to contribute to the goals of EU climate change mitigation (CCM) policy through the restoration of peatlands in Poland (PL), Germany (DE), Belgium (BE), the Netherlands (NL) and Ireland (IE).
The specific objectives are threefold:
1) The large-scale practical restoration of degraded peatlands leading to the cessation of significant GHG emissions from these areas and the restoration of their carbon sink function, as well as the improvement of knowledge on techniques and tools for measuring GHG emissions;
2) The development of a knowledge base and replicable techniques for halting further significant emissions from different classes of degraded peatlands and ultimately restoring their potential as carbon sinks;
3) The development of effective policy tools, such as a peatland policy toolkit that includes an EU-wide policy catalogue, data portal, and a policy development tool that brings together in one place relevant information for policy makers, climate change activists, experts, and the public.
- 689 ha of degraded peatlands will be restored/hydrologically improved (PL: 252ha; DE: 60 ha; BE: 130 ha; NL: 30 ha; IE: 217 ha). In the impacted peatlands, the reduction of desiccation, peat decay, GHG emissions, and recovery of the conditions to restart their sequestering functions is expected;
- Strategies for paludiculture in DE and BE sites will be developed and their implementation practically demonstrated (DE: paludiculture biomass usage on 10 ha and buffer strips on 0.75 ha; BE: 1 ha buffer strips);
- The Global Warming Potential (GWP) on all sites will be reduced up to 50%: in total a potential reduction of GHG emissions of up to 3 600 t CO2-eq./yr, given as GWP: PL 1 008 t CO2-eq./yr; DE 610 t CO2-eq./yr; BE 1 094 t CO2-eq./yr; NL 480 t CO2-eq./yr; IE 447 t CO2-eq./yr;
- Quality, accuracy, and replicability of GHG monitoring instruments and standards, also for heterogeneous nature areas: calculated GHG savings potential from all sites will be improved;
- GHG emissions data from peatlands including data from selected EU projects (ongoing and completed) will be collected and improved;
- Numerous policy-relevant documents developed/prepared: country policy fact-sheets, key policy analyses and recommendations, Policy Toolkit, recommendations for scaling up peatland restoration, national reviews of CAP impact on peatlands and GHG emission, recommendation for long-term habitat management in agricultural landscapes;
- Carbon Credit certificates issued (for each verified ton of carbon saved by the project) and sold.
- Ecological and conservation status of project areas will be improved through restoration:
- 20% increase of indicator species abundance (vegetation coverage)
- Mean groundwater level between -10 to -20 cm below ground surface, with a maximum range of +10 cm in winter and -30 cm in summer,
- Improvement of baseflow conditions by a project average of 15%,
- Quality improvement of Natura 2000 habitats (PL: 7110, 7120, 7230, 91D0; BE: 7140, 91E0*; NL: 7120, 7110, 4010, 3130, 3160),
- IE: Analysis and recommendations for increasing the extent of Natura 2000 designated sites and habitat improvement for the Greenland white fronted goose.